Patients with chronic whiplash associated disorders present with varied sensory, motor and psychological features. In this first instance it was questioned whether a multimodal program of physical therapies was an appropriate management to be broadly prescribed for these patients when it was known that some would have sensory features suggestive of a notable pain syndrome. A randomised controlled trial was conducted with 71 participants with persistent neck pain following a motor vehicle crash to explore this question. Participants were randomly allocated to receive either a multimodal physiotherapy program (MPT) or a self-management program (SMP) (advice and exercise). In the randomisation process, participants were stratified according to the presence or not of widespread mechanical or cold hyperalgesia. The intervention period was 10 weeks and outcomes were assessed immediately following treatment. Even with the presence of sensory hypersensitivity in 72.5% of subjects, both groups reported some relief of neck pain and disability (Neck Disability Index) and it was superior in the group receiving multimodal physiotherapy (p = 0.04). Post-hoc observations however suggested that relief was marginal in the subgroup with both widespread mechanical and cold hyperalgesia. Further research is required to test the validity of this sub-group observation and to test the effect of the intervention in the long term. (c) 2006 International Association for the Study of Pain. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.